Team Sky suffered a horrid day in the mountains at the Volta a Catalunya on Saturday, but are refusing to blame their errors on anything but their own mistakes.
Chris Froome, who was second before the start of stage six, was caught out on the day’s first climb when the race split into three distinctive groups.
Froome and his teammate Geraint Thomas were unable to chase back to the leading group that contained race leader Alejandro Valverde and other race favourites, eventually rolling home more than 25 minutes in arrears.
Sky’s DS Nico Portal conceded: “We made a big mistake. I’m not going to try and make an excuse, there is no excuse.
“The guys have been brilliant up until today. It looks like it was a positioning issue. The guys weren’t in the top positions on the first descent and this is what can happen.”
Despite the disappointment – Froome was hoping to overtake race leader Valverde – Portal was keen to stress that the team would much prefer to make such big errors in week-long races, than in Grand Tours.
“It’s a good reminder for us that it can happen to anyone,” Portal added. “It’s always bad when it happens, but maybe it’s better to happen here, and we learn from it, than in some of the bigger races we will have this season.”